Rare “dino bird” is patiently awaiting a mate to help repopulate her striking species


Just as when we thought we’ve seen all species, a “dinosaur bird” comes up.Strutting on the grounds of Exmoor Zoo in Devon, England is a rare and curious-looking bird. Standing at about the size of an average human, it’s surely a bird that anyone will hesitate to approach.But as strange as it looks, this shoebill under the care of Exmoor Zoo has a special mission.

And it’s a mission that can change the fate of their species in years to come.Abou the shoebill is one of the newest additions at Exmoor Zoo.She came from Pairi Daiza Zoo in Belgium and was transferred to the United Kingdom to participate in a breeding program.According to Newsweek, the “lovesick” bird often greets staff members and her caretakers with gestures akin to courtship like bowing or spreading her wings.

However, she may have to wait a little bit longer.
The breeding program which Abou is part of is waiting for a male shoebill that can mate with her.

According to Exmoor Zoo Curator Derek Gibson, they brought Abou into the zoo so that she could be well taken care of. As long as she’s healthy, she can wait for a viable male shoebill who can join her at Exmoor.

Shoebills are one of the most interesting birds in the wild thanks to their looks.
As said by National Geographic, shoebills either look like the bigger and goofier version of the already extinct dodo or a bird that anyone should be afraid of.

The bird’s most notable and strangest feature is its bill. The bill, which resembles a Dutch clog, gave the species their name.

This large bill enables the bird to gobble up larger fishes like tilapia, eels, and even snakes. To add to its terrifying looks, they are also believed to eat baby crocodiles.

Shoebills are also “romantic” which contributes to their steady decline.
The species can live up to 35 years where they mature at the age of three or four. Shoebills are monogamous creatures which makes the pace of reproduction slower than others.

For every couple, one or two eggs can hatch. Both parents also tend to their young, making them full-time parents after birth.

According to the magazine and Gibson, there are about 3,000 to 5,000 shoebills left in the wild.
“That is not a big figure at all,” he said to Newsweek. Currently, Abou’s breeding program has more females than males which can be challenging for monogamous species,

The birds are so rare that even Gibson admitted that it was his first time seeing one “in the feather.” The zoo hopes that with the interest growing around this amazing bird, it can raise awareness around the species.

He shared that human practices are to blame for their steady decline.
He mentioned that destructive practices like dumping chemicals into reverse and exhaustive farming shrink the bird’s habitat. Their “scary” features also give them a bad reputation in their native countries that they are killed for being bringers of “bad omens”.

“These birds do have their work cut out for them, which is why it is so important to offer Abou a home and put ourselves forwards to try and do our bit.” Gibson said.

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